Seventh Twin Cities Improv Fest brings national and local acts together

The San Francisco-based 3 for All are a highlight of the 2013 Twin Cities improv Festival.
The San Francisco-based 3 for All are a highlight of the 2013 Twin Cities improv Festival.
Image courtesy 3 for All
Butch Roy of Huge Theater has a simple description for the annual five-day Twin Cities Improv Festival. "This is like our Christmastime. We get to present all these cool things," Roy says.

Now in its seventh year, the festival brings in acts locally and from around the country to showcase the possibilities of fully improvised theater.

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"We want to raise the visibility of those who live here all the time for those who may not see improv the other 51 weeks of the year. It's also to showcase to people out of town that Minneapolis has terrific improv," Roy says.

The acts are chosen via submissions. Through the years, the festival has reached the point where there are more top-notch acts submitting to the festival than he has slots to fill.

"I spent a number of years on the road at festivals, and I know what I like and I don't like. We sat down and said, 'What are things we never want visiting artists to experience?' If the acts that perform had a good time at our festival, they go home and spread the word for us," Roy says. "That where our best acts come from."

The surplus of high-quality submissions also means Roy can program in a much deeper fashion.

"Being able to make a cohesive festival stylistically is a total luxury," Roy says.

San Francisco's 3 for All headlines the 2013 festival. The group features veteran performers Rafe Chase, Stephen Kearin, and Tim Orr. "They bring a really complete acting sensibility to their improv. The scenes are treated in such a smart and delicate way that you almost never see," Roy says.

A group of 3 for All's skill and reputation fits perfectly into Huge's mission. "We are trying to convince people of the validity of improv. Having a group like 3 for All shows people what it can be," Roy says.

The festival also features workshops led by the performers. These have had a distinct impact on the local scene. "We see an explosion of new proposals and new forms. These are really long lasting ripples in the Twin Cities community. It's what keeps the local scene fresh and constantly reinventing itself," Roy says.

Longstanding local improv groups like the Brave New Workshop, Stevie Ray's, and ComedySportz have places in the festival, along with new groups and combinations. One of those this year is OMG: Before We Got Our Lady Bits. In it, female performers bring in their high school and junior high diaries, read from them, and improvise around them. "It's a cathartic experience to get that out. The energy is so cool to have onstage," Roy says.

The festival spent its first few years at the Brave New Workshop, but has been a part of the Huge schedule for the past three years. That means Roy and the other improv regulars don't get a break once the festival finishes. 

"The Show X on the Monday after the festival is always the goofiest show of the year. It's the best kind of tired there is," he says.

7th Annual Twin Cities Improv Festival
Huge Theater, 3037 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
$10 per performance; multi-show passes available
For tickets and information, call 612.412.4843 or visit online.
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Huge Theater

3037 Lyndale Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55402


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